Sunday, September 1, 2019

Denali National Park


When my husband and I left the accommodations in Fairbanks, Alaska, that Princess Cruises provided after the fire at their Fairbanks Lodge had displaced all their guests, we had a two-hour bus ride south towards the Denali National Park area.   We passed beautiful scenery along the way and enjoyed the informational banter of our Princess Cruise Line bus driver who told us tales about his life in Alaska, the high price of goods (a quart of fresh milk can cost $12!), the sad story of Christopher McCandless, the non fiction story "Into the Wild," who perished after camping in an abandoned bus 113 days in the Alaskan wilderness, and about "frosties,"  which are slight roller coaster type waves in a road formed by melting permafrost. As we passed Nenana, Alaska, we learned about the Nenana Ice Classic, which is a betting pool event in which individuals attempt to guess the exact time the Tanana River ice will break up at Nenana. Tickets are on sale from February 1 through April 5 of each year throughout Alaska. The Nenana Ice Classic is a non-profit charitable gaming organization. As such, the proceeds benefit many volunteer and non-profit organizations in the area.  It was a fun ride, and I have to say this bus driver earned a nice tip from all the riders that day!


The Denali Princess Lodge was beautifully situated only a mile away from the entrance to Denali National Park.  The Nenana River could be seen behind the hotel. It lived up to our expectations after the disappointing beginning to the land portion of our Alaska vacation in Fairbanks.  I think we were still exhausted and stressed from that experience, but we looked forward to seeing the national park and all its beauty that afternoon!


After checking into our room we had a little time to explore the lodge and watch river rafters from the expansive deck behind the lodge. I would have liked to stay here longer, but the tour we were on only had us scheduled here one night.

Please double click on this photo to enlarge x2

I thought the facts on this placard on the grounds of the lodge about the challenges of constructing the lodge and about living in the extremely cold winters of Alaska were fascinating! Average winter temperatures can be minus 40 to 60 degrees below freezing.



That afternoon we boarded a regulated park green school bus to take our pre-scheduled Natural History Tour of Denali National Park!  Denali National Park is six million acres of wilderness, bisected by a 92 miles long Denali Park Road that parallels the Alaska Range and travels through low valleys and high mountain passes. 



The Savage River and Mountian Vista

The park only allows cars and campers to travel a short fifteen miles into the park to the Savage River and Mountain Vista portion of the park and then all visitors must transfer onto one of the different green school buses for a paid tour or free buses for transportation that is used to travel the rest of the way.  This method was devised to help preserve the park's wilderness and wildlife.  In winter the rangers still use dog sled teams to traverse the park, keeping with the "no machines" rule in the wilderness.


Please click on to enlarge

More information on a park placard about the George Parks Highwaythe highway which mostly parallels the Alaska Railroad, is one of the most important roads in Alaska. It is the main route between Anchorage and Fairbanks (Alaska's two largest metropolitan areas), the principal access to Denali National Park and Preserve and Denali State Park, and the main highway in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. The route's Interstate designation is not signed; rather, its entire length is signed as Alaska Route 3.  It also cites the reason the park restricts driving and uses shuttle buses inside the park.



Denali National Park has rare cloudless days in summer and the day we toured the park the weather was cloudy but the views inside the park were still mesmerizing!  The skinny black spruce trees of the relatively low-elevation taiga forest would give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America's tallest peak, 20,310 foot ( 6190.488 meters) Mount Denali.  Unfortunately, we were not to be among the one-third of visitors who actually sees the great mountain.



Even so, the beauty of Denali National Park was a dream come true for us to see!


The Denali Natural History Tour we were on was a 4 ½ to 5-hour tour that would travel to the Teklanika Flats (mile 25) in the park and was narrated by our bus driver with interesting facts about landscape, history, and geology of the park.



Most of my photos of the park had to be taken from the bus window up to this point, but I hope they still can convey the vastness of the six million miles of wilderness in the park.




There were several interpretive stops along the tour, with an hour of off-bus experience. We made a stop at the Savage Cabin, the original ranger’s cabin, built by road crews in 1924-25,  where a guide told us about the history of how the cabin was once used and how it continues to be used today.
At the Primrose Ridge stop, we listened to a memorable Alaskan Native presentation that narrated how the land has been used for nearly 10,000 years.



During the brief exits off the bus, I tried to walk around to experience the spongy permafrost ground.  It was an amazing experience! I wished I could spend much more time in the park, exploring trails and soaking in the silence and beauty. I definitely hope to do that someday.  My husband and I feel that now I've had an introduction to Alaska we would not hesitate to do a visit on our own.


Some of the wildflowers I was able to photograph while I was off the bus.


Some of the wildlife we saw in the park.  We saw quite a few Caribou (reindeer) and Snowshoe Hares (they have such big feet!), and a moose crossing the road in front of our bus. We missed seeing grizzly and black bears, wolves, fox, Dall Sheep, wolverines, etc, You can see a beginning list of the wildlife that lives in the park--and a beautiful photo of Mt Denali--on this NPS link.  There is also an interesting video about what the rangers do if they encounter a bear, moose, wolf, etc, in the park while hiking, camping, or cooking food, and how to use bear spray effectively, on this link.




We really enjoyed all the spectacular vistas from the bus windows on our tour...



I just wish we had more time and days to explore more of the park by foot, and a chance to visit the Denali Visitor Center on our visit. I love National Parks and have visited many in my lifetime. You can see the ones I've blogged about on this link--keep scrolling through the pages to see them all!






There is an Alaska Railroad Depot Located less than 100 yards from the Denali Visitor Center, so perhaps someday we will make another visit on our own!  We did ride the train on a portion of our land visit to Alaska and it was a very comfortable ride--more about that in a future post.



We ended the day with a delicious dinner at the Princess Denali Lodge King Salmon Restaurant, where we enjoyed wild-caught Alaskan King salmon along with delicious appetizers and dessert.  The next morning we left for the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, and another chance to see Mt. Denali. Come back to see that in my next post!


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42 comments:

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Looks like a great time. Your photos are a lot more clear than man of my other blog friends who visit Denali. It is a hard place to visit if one insists on preconceived ideas on what makes a good visit.

Lady Fi said...

Such gorgeous shots! How's your foot doing?

Angie said...

Pat - we have found that you often have to visit a place at least once in order to know enough to plan your next trip! Alaska is a place we plan to visit in the future - your posts will be very helpful for us! Your photos, even if many are from the bus, are stunning. I love the information on the placards - my hubby often gets tired of me reading every word when we visit somewhere wi ! I am very interested in the bear video and will watch it later. Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday!

Angie said...

Pat - sorry if my first message was a little garbled. My computer is being glitchy tonight!

diane b said...

Just caught up with your last post too. Glad to hear that the fires were got under control . They sure are scary.Your trip to Alaska certainly has been eventful but you have seen a lot. You sure do sound like you need to return and take more time. That is always the trouble with guided tours. But they do give you information that you may not glean from a tour on your own.

Rosie said...

Thanks for your great photos. Alaska looks like a wonderful place for photography and you certainly made the most of your trip.

A Bit of the Blarney said...

Pat, your photos are breathtaking it is certainly was a treasured trip. I remember feeling the same way about the wonder of quiet and solitude when we were at Glacier National Park. Wishing you a wonderful week!!

Linda W. said...

Your post brings back fond memories of when my family visited Denali in July 2002. We also had cloudy, rainy weather and the mosquitoes were quite vicious. But it was a gorgeous place and the wildlife phenomenal. I've wanted to make a return trip ever since.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Just so beautiful! Brings wonderful memories, we had many of the same experiences, but yours much better photographed than mine were! (Yogi is correct). We stayed several days at the farthest campground you can drive to and caught a green bus every morning to different stop. We didn’t see the big mountain either ... but the scenery and history, as you point out so beautifully, was amazing. (We did see bears and moose.).

bill burke said...

After your disappointing beginning to your trip, you recovered well. I enjoyed all your photos from this post and the previous posts of Alaska. You took lots of beautiful images. Your trip brought back some memories for me. I used to live in Fairbanks just up the hill from the University of Alaska Fairbanks where I worked in the Oral History program. We lived there from 1995-2004. We had some great times there and it was a fantastic experience. Thank you for sharing these posts on Alaska.
Have a wonderful new week and month.

NCSue said...

Nice series here. Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/09/a-strange-sight.html

Vee said...

Such vast beauty! Too bad there was cloud cover, but there were still incredible scenes. (I rather like the food photos best of all. ☺️)

Christie Hawkes said...

Beautiful photos, Pat. I love Alaska, such interesting history and beautiful geography. Thanks for linking up with #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I've shared on social media.

Ruth Hiebert said...

That is definitely a place I would love to visit. The pictures you have are fantastic.

Photo Cache said...

This is the cruise/land tour that I want to do someday. I'm happy to see your photos.

Worth a Thousand Words

Fun60 said...

I love that scenery. Your photos are great despite some of them were taken from inside the bus. I wonder if I will visit Alaska one day. I sincerely hope so.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

So many beautiful views - great captures

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Pat,
O MY!! What a beautiful post with such gorgeous scenery!! Simply Stunning!! Thanks so much for stopping by and thanks for leaving such a heartfelt comment on my post about retirement!! I truly appreciate your input and will be doing a follow up post soon!! Thanks again!
Hugs,
Debbie

Jeanie said...

Now THAT is what I call a tour! So impressive filled with tons of history and all that wildlife. I am terribly impressed by all this -- what you saw and experienced. Definitely a trip of a lifetime, I think.

Sandra Nachlinger said...

I'd love to visit Denali National Park. Your photos of the dramatic scenery are gorgeous.

Lorrie said...

Denali looks like an amazing place to visit, Pat. What wonderful photos you took. I'm glad the trip got sorted out after the rocky start.

Little Wandering Wren said...

I'm so glad your trip picked up from a disappointing start, you really have put Alaska firmly on my Bucketlist and I'm pleased to hear you say having enjoyed the tour & you would go there on your own. I always think a tour gives you the opportunity to cram a lot in and nice not to have to think, but being independent travellers always introduces you to a different side of a place.
Looking forward already to the next post.
Wren x

Dee | Grammy's Grid said...

Enjoyed seeing your pics!! Thanks so much for linking up at the #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 4. Shared.

Dee | Grammy's Grid said...

Visiting again to say hanks so much for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty 41.

William Kendall said...

Beautiful shots!

Lowcarb team member said...

Such wonderful photographs (and mosaics) Denali National Park looks so beautiful.

Sending my good wishes for the new month of September.

All the best Jan

Michelle Churchman said...

What magnificent landscapes! And I love the photos of the flowers and animals. A very impressive day!

judee said...

I absolutely love National Parks but I have never been to Alaska. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos

NanaHood said...

I loved this! Now I have to figure out how to get there! I'm also going to share the link with my son and daughter-in-law who love hiking, camping, anything outdoors. Thanks so much for sharing and for linking up at NanaHood.com. Teresa

mireille said...

Beautiful!
www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

betty-NZ said...

Wow! That's a lot of looking and learning! Great images and wonderful information. I think your hubby is right about going back on your own.

I'm happy to see your link on 'My Corner of the World' this week! Thanks for linking up!


My Corner of the World

Mahathi Ramya said...

Beautiful shots of nature.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Denali: a feast for the eyes!

Sharon Wagner said...

Eating wild salmon seems like the perfect ending to an epic Alaskan day.

Tanza Erlambang said...

beautiful shots....
excellent place to visit..

rupam sarma said...

Amazing pics.

Powell River Books said...

Many years ago we had a wonderful trip including a stop at Denali National Park. We landed at their airport and rented a car for our stay. We put our camping gear in the car and camped, went exploring and enjoyed hanging out at the beautiful old hotel. - Margy

Spare Parts and Pics said...

What an incredible national park, and one I would definitely like to see someday. Thanks for the wonderful tour and photos. "Into the Wild" made a lasting impression on me.

eileeninmd said...

Hello,

Beautiful photos from your trip! Denali Np is on our bucket list. The hotel, food and views all look fabulous! Happy Monday, wishing you a great day and happy new week!

Mother of 3 said...

That looks amazing! But I would definitely not want to be there in the winter-- brrr!

Beverly said...

Oh, Pat. It is breathtaking, and definitely on my bucket list. Thank you for always sharing your amazing experiences.

Happy Pink Saturday. This post is being featured on my Pink Saturday post this week as "the one with the most clicks".

Rambling Woods said...

I would love to visit.....Michelle